Workplace Harassment

Some of the most sensitive and difficult issues for HR professionals to handle are harassment and discrimination complaints. If a harassment or discrimination complaint is made, the HR department has to quickly and professionally act in order to solve the problem in a way that is satisfactory to the employee presenting the complaint and protects the company from possible litigation issues. One of the most difficult parts of these types of complaints is confidentiality. It is essential for any information communicated by an employee to the HR department to be kept totally confidential. However, if an employee comes forth with a complaint about harassment or discrimination, steps need to be taken in order to investigate the claim. And this may mean that a certain amount of the employee’s confidential information will need to be revealed.

What happens if the employee makes a claim of harassment or discrimination, but requests that no action be taken to investigate it? This can pose quite a problem, as while you need to consider the employee’s request, you also carry a responsibility to the company and to all of the employees in order to investigate any and all complaints fully. Even if this is what has been asked, HR can’t promise total confidentiality, as investigating the complaint typically means involving other employees and managers. You need to let the employee know that the HR department is responsible for looking into the complaint, no just to deal with the specific situation, but also to help others who may be having similar issues. However, you should let the employee know that confidential information will only be shared on an absolute need-to-know basis.

Sexual harassment is one of the most sensitive complaints that a company may have. The HR department needs to ensure that employees feel comfortable about coming forward if they think that they have been sexually harassed at any points, and that the company will treat these complaints with the utmost sensitivity, confidentiality, and professionalism. You also need to ensure that no discrimination happens at the workplace, since an employer will need to avoid potential sexual harassment complaints. For example, an employer in a traditionally male-dominated industry such as construction, mining, or drilling, may be wary of hiring female workers due to the fear of facing sexual harassment complaints that could come out of a woman working in an all-male environment. HR needs to be very careful here as not hiring women for this or any reason is technically discrimination and is illegal according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), since it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Discrimination and harassment are harmful to all of the employees of the company as well as the company itself. This is why one of the most important tasks for HR is to work to prevent these types of complaints from happening, and if they do occur, to be informed about how to handle them. Pam Olsen Personal Injury is a top personal injury firm. Call Pam Olsen Personal Injury for your personal injury case consultation today!

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